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PDEA-Ilocos tightens coastal watch to curb drugs smuggling

DAGUPAN: The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Ilocos will strengthen border control in seaports and coastal areas, focus on village drug-clearing operations, and partner with other agencies to increase the drug-cleared villages in the region.

PDEA-Ilocos regional director Joel Plaza, in a virtual forum hosted by the Philippine Information Agency-Ilocos Region on Tuesday, said they plan to establish this year the Seaport Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group to strengthen security and monitor smuggling in the coastal areas.

“We have vast coastline, thus we are prone to drug smuggling. But even before the establishment of the task group, we have already started with the villages in the municipalities along shorelines. We are asking their help to detect smuggling activities,” he said.

Local government staff of Santa, Ilocos Sur; San Juan, La Union; Burgos, Ilocos Norte; and Tubao, La Union have been trained for coast watch activities and PDEA eyes to give more trainings.

“We want to form a ta
sk group to have first responders on illegal drugs smuggling so we can follow through, back track, and investigate. We really need the help of everyone,” he said.

Plaza said the Comprehensive Provincial Anti-Drug Plan of the provinces in the region focuses on clearing the remaining 337 drug-affected villages, thus, the importance to activate the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council.

“They would be able to identify the drug personalities in their communities and give proper intervention with their resources,” he said.

Plaza also underscored the need to tie up with other government agencies to provide aid such as livelihood programs, similar to what was provided to residents from mountainous areas who were previously involved in marijuana farms; and the construction of roads and provision of support to legitimate farming activities.

He said they are promoting a drug-free workplace in government agencies, noting that seminars have been given to around 208 offices in the region.

In 2023, PDEA-Ilocos conducted 70
3 anti-illegal drug operations, confiscated over PHP3.34 billion worth of illegal drugs, and arrested over 800 drug suspects.

Source: Philippines News Agency